|Conservation status||Numbers vary in limited range in United States. Many may be killed by exceptionally cold winters in Texas.|
|Habitat||Ponds, marshes. In Texas usually on shallow freshwater ponds and ditches, either fairly open or with heavy marsh vegetation. Often appears on small temporary ponds after rainy periods. In tropics, also on brackish marshes, lakes, slow-moving rivers, mangrove swamps.|
Forages in several ways. Dives and swims underwater in pursuit of prey, captures insects on and above surface of water or takes them from waterside vegetation. May catch flying dragonflies by approaching them underwater and then erupting from beneath water's surface to snatch them from the air.
4-6, rarely 3-7. Whitish to very pale blue-green, becoming stained in nest. Incubation (by both sexes) about 21 days. Young: Can swim soon after hatching. Small young often ride on parents' backs; fed by both parents. Young may return to nest for sleeping and resting during first 2 weeks after hatching. Age at first flight not known. May raise 2-3 broods per year (possibly more in tropics).
Can swim soon after hatching. Small young often ride on parents' backs; fed by both parents. Young may return to nest for sleeping and resting during first 2 weeks after hatching. Age at first flight not known. May raise 2-3 broods per year (possibly more in tropics).
Mostly insects. Feeds on wide variety of insects, including aquatic beetles, waterbugs, dragonfly larvae and adults, and others. Also small crustaceans, spiders, tadpoles, small fish.
In Texas, breeds mainly spring and summer, sometimes at other seasons; nests year-round in the tropics. Courtship displays not well known, may include pair rising to upright position and gliding rapidly across surface of water. Nest: Site is in shallow water, usually 1-3' deep. Nest (built by both sexes) is a mass of decaying vegetation, either floating or resting on bottom, anchored to aquatic plants. Same nest often re-used for subsequent broods.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Not truly migratory, but moves around considerably, sometimes appearing quickly on newly-formed ponds. Has strayed north to California, Arizona, and Louisiana. Has colonized many islands in Caribbean, and strays from Caribbean have reached Florida. Movements are probably mostly at night.
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